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Illinois AD: Zook to return in 2010

10/24/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Despite a 1-6 start that includes six double-digit defeats, Illinois head coach Ron Zook will be back in 2010.

Athletic director Ron Guenther made the announcement at halftime of Saturday's game against Purdue, a 24-14 Illinois loss.

"There will be some changes, but there won't be a change at the top," Guenther told reporters at Ross-Ade Stadium. "There's a great deal of frustration obviously with the program at the moment. We're still going to evaluate [at the end of the season], but I think it's really unfair to start jumping at the end of the fifth year on a guy."

Many schools are far less patient, especially with a team that hasn't come close to maximizing its talent. Illinois has been the Big Ten's biggest disappointment in each of the last two years, and Zook is just 19-36 in four-plus seasons as head coach.

Guenther could still change his mind, I guess, but Zook can breathe a bit easier now.

The thing to keep in mind is Illinois finds itself in a terrible position to make a change. The UI administration is embroiled in a major admissions scandal, which resulted in the resignations of the university president, chancellor and six trustees. It's hard to pay Zook's buyout with so much in flux.